Deception In The Captain's Daughter

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“But in my opinion to live off murder and robbery is the same as pecking at carrion”, Grinev stated in response to Pugachev justifying his actions (Pushkin 436). In a society with an unjust social hierarchy that upholds the status quo, who is to deem what action is virtuous and what action is unscrupulous? In the novel, The Captain’s Daughter, by Alexander Pushkin, the conduct of several characters poses the question whether an action can simply be classified as either moral or immoral. Narrating the story about an eagle and a raven, Pugachev attempts to justify his siege of the fortress. The eagle asks “how is it that you live in this bright world for three hundred years, while I only live for thirty-three in all” (435); the raven answers…show more content…
If, however…” (385). This scene foreshadows Shvabrin inevitable defection. Shvabrin is already thinking about hypothetical situations and how to act accordingly to future events. Shvabrin’s betrayal is only but a glimpse of his true nature. He is a raven, extracting all the benefits from Ivan Kuzmitch while he can and waiting for his death. He moves onto Pugachev shortly after only because he knows Pugachev will end up dead, leaving Shvabrin with all the power. If Pugachev is the eagle, murdering and stealing in order to live a shorter but more fulfilling life, then Shvabrin is the raven, feeding off the leftovers of what Pugachev kills. Shvabrin, although not committing any crimes directly, is not a moral character. He is, in fact, taking advantage of those around him in order to gain more power. He joins forces with Pugachev because of the shift in power; this allowed him to essentially control the fortress and hold Masha captive. Like a raven feeding off the dead, Shvabrin gains more power each time the person he latches himself onto dies. On the other hand, Grinev is the antithesis of Shvabrin for he obtains power through his loyalty and…show more content…
He went up to Pugachev and said a few words in his ear” (400). Shvabrin’s peasant style hair is a physical sign of his defection and allegiance to Pugachev. Again, Shvabrin is seen to be like a raven for he witnesses the execution of the Captain and the Captain’s wife. It can be inferred Shvabrin still detests Grinev for having affection for Masha and that he tells Pugachev to hang Grinev. In order to secure his own affection for Masha, Shvabrin is willing to feed off the dead body of Grinev. Pugachev’s resemblance to the eagle is demonstrated when “Pugachev growned darkly and waved a white handkerchief. Several Cossacks seized the old captain and dragged him to the gallows” (399). The murder of the Captain guarantees Pugachev’s rise to power is like the eagle drinking living blood ensures its good, but short, life. Pugachev and Grinev are alike in many ways, mostly because the eagle can be seen in both their characters. Much like Grinev repays Pugachev for guiding him out of the snowstorm by giving him his hareskin coat, Pugachev returns the favor again by allowing Grinev to live and providing him a “horse and a coat from his own shoulders” (415). It is interesting to note that when Grinev rewards Pugachev for his kindness in the snowstorm, Grinev is a noble while Pugachev is a peasant. Now that Pugachev
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